Bikini.com’s rebrand under Remark Media took it from a cheap version of Maxim — as its new owner would describe it — to beach lifestyle Web site and e-tailer.
Bikini, less than two years after being sold to Remark, recently opened a pop-up at the Wynn Las Vegas and is expanding sales internationally as its parent looks to make the brand relevant to Millennials.
“Retail, especially online, it’s much more of an experience and much more about a lifestyle base,” said Bikini codirector Shannon Follansbee. “Amazon has a model in which people go and purchase and then they leave. A lot of the purchases are very utility driven or need based. We’re more about creating a desire for that, and I think that comes out of it being a leisure activity. So you have to provide an experience for people to return again and again and again, especially when your brand is one that’s online only.”
The company’s site features articles on pre-workout protein bowls and travel guides. It also sells swimsuits — about 3,000 stockkeeping units — from about 30 designers ranging in price from $50 to $350.
The pop-up operates Thursdays and Sundays through September at the Wynn’s XS Nightclub and Encore Beach Club. That complements a showroom at headquarters.
The majority of Bikini’s customers are from the U.S. and Canada. Last month the company added the U.K. and will continue to expand its international base.
The Bikini purchase represented Remark’s first real entry into the Millennial space as the company seeks a turnaround, according to Remark chief executive officer and chairman Kai-Shing Tao. Remark paid about $2.38 million for Bikini owner Pop Factory LLC in 2013.
The company portfolio, up until the Bikini purchase, was a mixed bag, according to Tao. In some ways it still is with health care resources site Sharecare, Banks.com, SlapTV.com and hotel booking site Roomlia among its assets.
It remains to be seen whether the new strategy will work. The company’s not profitable and its losses widened last year to $18.17 million from $6.97 million in 2013. Revenue in 2014 was off 10 percent to $1.84 million.
Remark could turn a profit this year, but Tao tempered that statement with where the company is at in its growth cycle.
“If we’re concerned about profit right now we’re probably not doing our job where we’re leaving too much on the table,” Tao said. “For where we are and the opportunity that we’ve created for ourselves, I think a lot of the capital we make off our top line should be reinvested because there’s so much opportunity out there for us.”
The strategy just a few years ago, Tao said, was to either sell some of the assets or change course.
“So in 2012, Vice Media was a company that we were presented an opportunity to invest in,” Tao said. “That kind of led to the thinking of ‘OK, if we want to target Millennials and everyone’s trying to target them, a company like Time Warner is too big for an investor to get real exposure to the Millennials. A company like Vice Media, which is the gold standard, that’s private so you have to have a relationship to get in. Let’s create a company that the everyday investor can invest in to target the Millennials.’ So that’s how we started.”
Bikini was a good beginning, Tao said. The resources of Remark’s SlapTV.com could help with video integration into Bikini. Roomlia’s booking capabilities could also be integrated at some point.
“What we’re trying to do is create our own ecosystem of things,” Tao said. “So just as Apple does with their software or hardware, we think that all the different assets we have put under Remark Media will be able to feed off each other.”
The company’s particularly excited about its app KanKan, which translates to “search” or “discover” in Chinese. It’s expected to launch in June, pending approval by the iTunes store.
The app’s aim, like many, is to connect people, but it works across social media channels. So someone from China’s WeChat, for example, could connect with someone on Facebook. The app uses an algorithm to find where there’s a large amount of social media activity close to the user, who could then pull up information on posts people around them have recently done.
The app’s free, but the company will make its money selling data to retailers. And there’s also the gamification of the app — sending someone a digital rose, for example — that could pull in additional revenue and help with targeted advertising.